Wireless tools in demand among small businesses

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Wireless tools in demand among small businesses

Arif Mohamed

Smartphones, webcams, communication devices and storage products were the IT products most in demand by small and medium-sized enterprises and home workers in the first half of this year.

These users spent £3.9bn on IT products during the period, said research firm GfK Group in its biannual UK Technology Barometer report.

Products that support wireless technology and converged communications are hot property among UK business, said GfK.

The research looked into the sales of business-to-business and retail outlets as well as mail order IT suppliers. It tracked the technology buying trends and sales performance across PCs, hardware, monitors, communication devices and cards, printing devices and consumables, peripherals, storage and boxed software.

During the first half of the year, UK buyers bought PCs worth £1,443m, printing devices and multifunctional devices worth £303m, £343m of monitors, and hard drives and network attached storage worth £130m. Communication devices accounted for £122m, and software £239m.

Jean Littolff, business group director at GfK, said prices were falling for commodity technology products. He said these price reductions had been fuelled partly by bundled deals. So, for example, a package of both a wireless router and a wireless network interface card could sell for substantially less than the price of a single router a year ago. GfK found that in some sectors, bundled products accounted for as much as 45% of total sales.

Littolff added that the average notebook price had fallen from £808 to £686 between the first half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, which has made them more attractive to businesses than many desktop PCs.

Analyst firm IDC said that, in addition to the trends GfK has drawn attention to, SMEs were buying more storage systems.

Dave Reinsel, director of storage research at IDC, said, "New storage-demanding applications and more advanced storage strategies by the SME sector are among the factors fuelling market demand for storage capacity that is expected to grow by more than 50% annually over the next several years."

The trend to device convergence

Businesses are increasingly turning to devices that provide multiple functions, rather than technologies that serve a single purpose, according to GfK Group's UK Technology Barometer report.

Jean Littolff, GfK's IT business group director, said, "Not only are we looking at convergence within IT sectors, but also a blurring of lines between IT, consumer electronics and telecoms. This long-standing trend is being realised in a substantial fashion in 2006."

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